HHS CIO Frank Baitman talks cloud and innovation

In a FedScoop TV interview, CIO Frank Baitman discusses how the Department of Health and Human Services is breaking the IT status quo.

Cloud is the next frontier for government IT innovation, according to Department of Health and Human Services Chief Information Officer Frank Baitman.

A fundamental change is on the horizon as network virtualization and software-as-a-service redefine enterprise systems. The federal IT community, Baitman told FedScoop in an exclusive interview, does not intend to fall behind.

“Moving to the cloud — everything that does to your network — the way you begin to think about things changes,” Baitman said. “One of the dirty little secrets we have in government is that our networks are large and federated, and some might say fragmented. We’re moving in a direction that’s going to allow us to have better visibility into our network. That’s going to make lots of positive changes in terms of what we buy, how we buy it and how we manage it.”


According to Baitman, the transition to cloud and broad movement toward a connected world will fundamentally alter the way government views its systems. This extends to cybersecurity, very much at the forefront of the public spotlight in the wake of the recent OPM hacks.

“We’ve thought about networks as impermeable — they’re not impermeable, and we know that very well. You need to begin to architect the network in layers,” Baitman said. “The change is beginning with the Internet of Things — we need to think about all those things that we are connecting to networks. It’s not just going to be those clients like cell phones and laptops; it’s going to be thousands of devices, and ultimately, individuals are going to be connected in many different ways to their business network.”

Even as cybersecurity concerns will be heightened, the expansion of enterprise infrastructure will allow HHS to cater more specifically to the needs of each government agency, a task which has proven difficult to balance. The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, particularly, will allow CIOs to sculpt infrastructure to their organizations’ tasks.

“With FITARA, we can look at things from an enterprise perspective,” Baitman said. “Where are there similarities and where are there differences across enterprise, and how do we re-architect our network so that it takes us into the future but meets the missions needs?”

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